Harry Christophers

Conductor

Harry Christophers

Harry Christophers is known internationally as founder and conductor of The Sixteen as well as a regular guest conductor for many of the major symphony orchestras and opera companies worldwide. He has directed The Sixteen and its orchestra, The Symphony of Harmony and Invention, throughout Europe, America and the Far East. He has performed at some of the world's most prestigious festivals including Salzburg, Mostly Mozart in New York, the BBC Promenade Concerts, the Prague Spring Festival and in Vienna's Musikverein, Sydney Opera House and Tokyo Opera City, gaining a distinguished reputation for his work in Renaissance, Baroque and 20th century music.

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Palestrina Volume 6

Palestrina Volume 6


Palestrina:

Missa L'Homme Armé 5vv

Surge amica mea, speciosa mea (from Canticum canticorum)

Dilectus meus mihi

Peccantem me quotidie

Surgam et circuibo civitatem

Parce mihi, Domine

Si ambulavero in medio tribulationis

Tribulationes civitatum

Super flumina Babylonis

Tribularer si nescirem

plus:

SONG OF SONGS: nos. 16, 17 & 18


The Sixteen continues its acclaimed series of discs exploring the work of Italian Renaissance master, Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina. An enormous body of sacred works, including over 100 Masses, rightly earned Palestrina the title of ‘the prince and father of music’ and ‘the saviour of church music’. His legacy has impacted sacred music worldwide for over 400 years and composers throughout the centuries have studied and learned from his gift of writing exquisite polyphony.

Central to this sixth disc is Palestrina’s unjustly neglected 5-voice L’Homme armé Mass. Written before 1570, it is no mere technical showpiece, but contains music of the highest quality. It is accompanied on this disc by a group of penitential and devotional motets and Offertories on well known texts such as Parce mihi Domine, Si ambulavero in medio tribulationis, Tribulationes civitatem, De profundis, and Super flumina Babylonis, eliciting from Palestrina his best and most moving music. Three further Song of Songs motets in the Sixteen’s ongoing complete survey complete the CD.

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Purcell: The Indian Queen

Purcell: The Indian Queen


Purcell:

The Indian Queen, Z630

Purcell, D:

The Masque of Hymen


Julie Cooper, Kirsty Hopkins, Jeremy Budd, Mark Dobell, Matthew Long, Ben Davies, Eamonn Dougan & Stuart Young

The Sixteen, Harry Christophers

Henry Purcell was a brilliant music dramatist and in The Indian Queen there is a plethora of detail, colour and characterisation to be explored in every symphony, air and dance. Purcell's instrumental writing leaps off the page with string writing that is second to none and a wealth of variety capped by exquisite writing for trumpet, oboes and recorders.

Based on Dryden’s play, Henry Purcell’s music from The Indian Queen deals with the conflict between the Mexican and Peruvians and principally with Queen Zempoalla. The Indian Queen is a classic story of love and war and, as with all good stories, things don’t go quite as planned for the eponymous Queen…

There is so much exceptional vocal music to revel in but none better than the extraordinary recitative You twice ten hundred deities for the magician Ismeron which opens Act III, and was described by the historian Charles Burney as “the best piece of recitative in our language”.

Like Mozart and Schubert, Henry Purcell lived all too short a life – he lived just over 30 years – and for that reason it was left to his brother Daniel to complete The Indian Queen. Daniel was no Henry but his final Hymeneal masque allows a little light relief. Act V, which was the last music that Henry wrote, is a perfect Didoesque ending to The Indian Queen proper and just proves how we as music lovers suffer when these geniuses die young.

“Christophers leads a trim, affectionate performance of Purcell’s last (unfinished) semi-opera. The musical forces are small and flexible, and though some previous recordings bring more star power to bear among the soloists, Purcell’s bountiful score is never short-changed.” Financial Times, 28th February 2015 ****

“A fine scene for the magician Ismeron...is suavely done by Eamonn Dougan. The band play adroitly in a few curtain tunes and the Overture...High tenor Matthew Long dispatches Fame's 'Begone, curst fiends of Hell' impressively...this is an engaging advocacy of Purcell's final and seemingly incomplete opera.” Gramophone Magazine, May 2015

“Henry’s music has dwindled to one song, but his contributions are of consistently finer quality...than his relative’s. Christophers has less famous names than Hogwood did (Kirkby, Ainsley, Finley), but Matthew Long, Eamonn Dougan and Julie Cooper’s solos are all outstanding, and their voices blend superbly in the choruses.” Sunday Times, 29th March 2015

“It’s a delicious 72 minutes of Restoration wit and lyrical charm, performed gracefully by Harry Christophers’ the Sixteen. There are stirring trumpet tunes, one magnificent bass scene (sonorously delivered by Eamonn Dougan), and fine solos from rising young singers such as Kirsty Hopkins and Matthew Long.” The Times, 28th February 2015 ****

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Flight of Angels

Flight of Angels


Guerrero:

Duo Seraphim

Missa Surge propera: Gloria

Laudate Dominum

Maria Magdalene

Missa de la batalla escoutez: Credo

Vexilla Regis

Missa Congratulamini mihi: Agnus Dei I

Missa Congratulamini mihi: Agnus Dei II

Lobo, A:

Missa Maria Magdalene: Kyrie

Libera me

Ave Regina caelorum

Ave Maria

Versa est in luctum


Harry Christophers talks to Presto's David Smith about Flight of Angels here.

The Sixteen takes a trip back to 16th-century Spain and more specifically to one of the biggest, richest and most cosmopolitan cities on earth - Seville. It was during this 'golden age', when arts and culture flourished, that Francisco Guerrero and Alonso Lobo made their mark. Between them these two composers captured an astonishing variety of moods within their music, from ecstasy and joy to despair, longing and devotional stillness.

“this programme…offers much warmth and richness of recorded sound” Choir & Organ, May 2015

“As so often Christophers and the Sixteen prove to be the most persuasive advocates imaginable…[and]a commendably helpful essay by Martyn Imrie sets the seal on an outstanding release, beautifully recorded and scintillatingly sung. Vivant Sedecim!” Early Music Today, May 2015

“Most of the music is written for at least six voices (usually more), a richness of texture to which The Sixteen respond admirably: the textures remain lucid and legible throughout.” Gramophone Magazine, May 2015

“Christophers has devised a sequence that weaves together strikingly beautiful liturgical settings by both composers...The Sixteen performances may be a little detached and disembodied at times, but the poised beauty of their singing never fails.” The Guardian, 27th March 2015 ****

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Spirit, Strength & Sorrow

Spirit, Strength & Sorrow

Five settings of the Stabat Mater


Casciolini:

Stabat Mater

Firsova, E:

Stabat Mater

Kõrvits:

Stabat Mater

Martin, M:

Stabat Mater

Scarlatti, D:

Stabat Mater a 10 voci


Spirit, Strength & Sorrow is the staggering result of The Sixteen’s third collaboration with the Genesis Foundation and demonstrates, once again, their joint commitment to nurturing new artistic talent. This CD features three brand new settings of the Stabat Mater from emerging composers, Alissa Firsova, Tõnu Kõrvits and Matthew Martin alongside those by Claudio Casciolini and Domenico Scarlatti.

Harry Christophers writes: ‘I find it staggering to think that it was only eight years ago when I first met John Studzinsiki. We had been invited to perform a very special work by Will Todd, aptly written for sixteen solo voices, which John had commissioned for his birthday. From this moment began a fruitful, meaningful and, above all, inspirational collaboration with John and the Genesis Foundation. Every project since has emanated from John’s devotion to the Catholic faith and his love of the wonderful poetry which encapsulates Christianity as well as his laudable mission to promote and nurture young talent.’

“Of the three contemporary works featured, Matthew Martin's is technically the most ambitious...It's an absorbing, highly accomplished piece of vocal writing, tailor-made to stretch a choir of The Sixteen's ability...For sinuous beauty, though, Domenico Scarlatti's gorgeous ten-part setting takes some beating, deliciously accompanied here by theorbo, harp and organ.” BBC Music Magazine, February 2015 ****

“All three [new works] are worth hearing and Domenico Scarlatti’s “Stabat Mater” makes a highly enjoyable Baroque companion for them.” Financial Times, 29th November 2014 ****

“All three [new settings] are touching and effective: imaginative in their choral sonorities and colouring of the text, skilfully balancing a strong feeling for tradition with a distinctive individual voice...At moments in their intimate and elegiac performance of the Scarlatti I wanted a dose of Latin theatricality. But in the new works their singing, technically and expressively, is beyond criticism.” Gramophone Magazine, January 2015

“Three new responses to the text, commissioned by John Studzinski’s Genesis Foundation, are sung here with faultless clarity by the Sixteen...Each is a significant contribution to the repertoire, sitting proudly alongside more familiar settings from Scarlatti and Casciolini, and all meticulously directed by Harry Christophers.” The Observer, 16th November 2014 ****

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - January 2015

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Monteverdi: Vespro della beata Vergine (1610)

Monteverdi: Vespro della beata Vergine (1610)


Grace Davidson, Charlotte Mobbs (sopranos), Simon Berridge, Jeremy Budd, Mark Dobell (tenor) & Ben Davies, Eamonn Dougan (bass)

The Sixteen, Harry Christophers

Harry Christophers writes: ‘Monteverdi’s Vespers of 1610 is quite simply one of the greatest works of sacred music ever written and without doubt the most varied and inspired before Handel and Bach began composing their oratorios and passions. Where it was written, why it was written and who it was written for are actually immaterial – suffice it to say it was quite simply his calling card for the big job, Choirmaster at the resplendent Basilica of St Mark in Venice. Its variety alone makes it unique – thrilling psalm settings with virtuosic writing for both multi-part choir and instrumentalists to exotic and sensual settings of texts from the Song of Songs for solo voices. Every movement is full of luscious harmonies, drama and an evocative musical language which is so beautifully constructed for all concerned.’

“Christophers sees Monteverdi attempting here to 'speak through singing'...and this, he tells us, allows the conductor 'the most amazing licence' - of accentuation, speed and declamation. Hence the character accounts of Laudate pueri and Dixit Dominus, where pauses are ignored or inserted and the relative speeds between their duple and triple sections are rarely the same.” BBC Music Magazine, January 2015 ****

“This is surely one of the most refined versions of the Vespers currently available...not a note is out of place” Early Music Today, May 2015 *****

“Exemplary all-round standards are the draw here, whether solo voices, choir or instruments.” Financial Times, 15th November 2014 ****

“The Sixteen has a directness and, certainly in this recording, a muscularity in approach that are very appealing…Christophers shapes every phrase beautifully and is always alive to Monteverdi's rhetoric…[this performance] gives a sense of how shockingly modern Monteverdi's Vespers must have seemed to those used to Palestrina and the like. For a work with which we are now so familiar, that is no small achievement.” International Record Review, May 2015

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Bach, J S: Motets, BWV225-230

Bach, J S: Motets, BWV225-230


Bach’s six motets are among the greatest achievements of choral polyphony in the baroque period. This early recording by The Sixteen and Harry Christophers is a jewel in Hyperion’s catalogue, containing performances of utter joy, rendered in sonic splendour.

“Splendid. A wonderful achievement, one that only renews our admiration for Bach. It has been six, maybe twelve months since I heard a record that impressed me as much as this one. Don’t pass it by” American Record Guide

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Palestrina Volume 5

Palestrina Volume 5


Palestrina:

Missa Iam Christus astra ascenderat

Canticum Canticorum, cycle of 29 motets: No. 13

Canticum Canticorum, cycle of 29 motets: No. 14

Canticum Canticorum, cycle of 29 motets: No. 15

Dum complerentur

Loquebantur variis linguis

Veni Creator Spiritus

Veni Sancte Spiritus

Magnificat quarti toni


Harry Christophers and The Sixteen continue their exploration of Palestrina's great work with the fifth disc in their celebrated series. This album features a selection of Palestrina’s music for Pentecost including his Missa Iam Christus astra ascenderat. Alongside the Mass are motets from the Song of Songs. The Song of Songs are among some of Palestrina’s most sublime and expressive works and, as with previous disc in the series, this album includes three of them. Dedicated to Pope Gregory XIII, Palestrina’s style of writing for these sensual texts demonstrates what variety and intensity of feeling can be conveyed with the simplest of means.

“The subtle ebb and flow of the speed in Vox dilecti, for example, exactly matches the quickening emotions at the sound of the voice of the beloved, and the ascending musical motives at the call for her to rise up and come hither at beautifully handled by the singers in Surge propera.” BBC Music Magazine, September 2014 ***

“The balance of voices, sensitivity to the text, ebb and flow of phrases, and uniformity of sound, all suggest that these discs will be listened to decades from now.” Early Music Today

“The energy that The Sixeen bring to their Palestrina is admirable, though I continue to hope for a surprise in the format to keep the series on its toes.” Gramophone Magazine, September 2014

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Music of the Kingdom

Music of the Kingdom


includes:

Britten:

Homage: Final Dance

Carver:

Missa Dum sacrum mysterium: Sanctus Carver: Benedictus

Gibbons, O:

Great King of Gods

Handel:

Coronation Anthem No. 1, HWV258 'Zadok the Priest'

Tallis:

Sing and glorify heaven's high majesty

Turges:

From stormy windes


This new compilation from The Sixteen brings together some of the finest works written for, and in celebration of, Monarchs and the Kingdom. From Turges in the 1400s to Britten in the 20th century, whether for magnificent state occasions or private devotion, the Kings and Queens of Great Britain have inspired and patronized some of our finest and most enduring music.

Included on this disc are two of Handel’s glorious Coronation Anthems written for the coronation of King George II; excerpts from Purcell’s music for Queen Mary; and the Sanctus from Robert Carver’s sumptuous Missa Dum Sacrum Mysterium which may well have been sung at the coronation of James V. Taking centre-stage however, is Tallis’s dazzling Sing and glorify – the English setting of Spem in alium which was adapted for King James I to honour his son Henry, the newly-anointed Prince of Wales.

On display are centuries of superb compositions from the CORO catalogue of recordings made so far, with the exception of one specially recorded track: William Byrd's fabulous O Lord, make thy servant Elizabeth.

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JS Bach: Lutheran Masses Volume II

JS Bach: Lutheran Masses Volume II


Bach, J S:

Mass in G major, BWV236

Cantata BWV79 'Gott der Herr ist Sonn und Schild'

Mass in A major, BWV234


Despite their exquisite beauty, featuring splendid choruses and deeply moving arias, there are relatively few recordings of Bach’s Lutheran Masses. On this second disc, which completes The Sixteen’s mini-series, the orchestra is joined by just eight singers to perform the Masses, allowing the beauty of the virtuosic vocal lines to be heard with absolute clarity.

Sometimes called ‘Missa brevis’, the Lutheran Masses feature almost no Lutheran material at all. Musically, they are almost entirely made up of movements borrowed from Bach’s Cantatas and their beauty is in the fact that they represent the composer’s own choice of his finest Cantata movements.

It is 20 years since The Sixteen last recorded such a wealth of Bach’s music, making this a uniquely exciting project. Volume I was released in October 2013.

“This is a fascinating lesson in the art of creative transcription by a master transcriber. Both Masses bring out the relaxed and avuncular in Christophers...With scrupulous instrumental underpinning, a natural recorded sound, and Doyle's ravishing 'Qui tollis', this is a worthy successor to Vol. 1.” BBC Music Magazine, May 2014 ****

“The Sixteen could not be better suited to the genial abstraction of the sunny Mass in G major, BWV236...There are more refined and exquisite performances...but there are few as unassuming and natural as this. Strongly recommended.” Gramophone Magazine, June 2014

“There are surely few other chamber ensembles that are capable of achieving such equality of line between the vocal and the instrumental. The subtlety achieved by horn players Anneke Scott and Joseph Walters in BWV 79’s chorale ‘Nun danket alle Gott’ is particularly remarkable. All members of The Sixteen are equally at home as soloists and choral singers.” Early Music Today

GGramophone Magazine

Editor's Choice - June 2014

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The Voice of the Turtle Dove

The Voice of the Turtle Dove


Davy, R:

Ah, mine heart, remember thee well

O Domine caeli terraeque creator

Mundy, W:

Vox Patris caelestis

Adolescentulus sum ego

Sheppard, J:

Libera nos 1 & II

In manus tuas I

In manus tuas III

Gaude gaude gaude Maria


In 2014 The Sixteen returns to its grass roots for the repertoire of the 14th Choral Pilgrimage tour as it revisits the golden age of Renaissance polyphony in England. In this new programme The Sixteen presents a stunning selection of music by John Sheppard, Richard Davy and William Mundy including Sheppard’s magnificent Gaude, gaude, gaude Maria, and gem of the Tudor period Libera nos; Davy’s monumental O Domine caeli terraeque creator which was written in one day at Magdalen College, Oxford; and Mundy’s great antiphon Vox patris caelestis.

“the soloists do well by [Davy's] Ah, mine heart, and Mundy's Vox patris caelestis, engagingly fleet of foot, belies its length and concludes the disc very satisfyingly.” Gramophone Magazine, April 2014

“The artistry of The Sixteen makes this disc worthwhile. More satisfying, however, would be if the group would re-engage with under- or never-recorded Tudor masterpieces, rather than with its own earlier performances.” BBC Music Magazine, May 2014 ****

“these performances have about them an aura of musical supremacy, which, coupled with the choir's technical magnifience and the recording's sumptuous sound, makes this an outstanding disc, even by the phenomenally high standards The Sixteen has long since made its own.” International Record Review, May 2014

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